Caught by the River

Dear Santa….

23rd December 2008

by Peter Upton;

This is an infamous set. It’s Subbuteo’s crack at a more standard board game, and dates from the early 1970s. It only seems to have existed for a couple of years, but it did last long enough to get two different box lids. The object of the board game is to finish with the heaviest catch of fish.. You do this by using the UFO shaped dicer (seen in all its glory on the Miscellaneous page) to move your plastic fisherman clockwise around the board.

At each corner of the board is a tackle shop, with one being the start and master tackle shop. Every time you land on a tackle shop (or pass the start), you can gain another piece of tackle. Before you can start to fish you need a rod, a reel, a float and a keep net, plus matching line and hook (there are four different pairs of these you can collect). If you want to catch big fish, you also need a landing net. So the start of the game is a race to collect all the tackle needed. The other squares on the board contain places to fish (rivers, a lake, a gravel pit etc), fishing permits (allow you to fish anywhere) and day tickets (allow you to fish at certain places), plus four different types of bait to collect (which match up to the four different line/hook combinations). There are also “splash” cards which add an extra degree of chance to proceedings.

Once you have all your tackle, you can think about fishing. For this, you have to land on a water square, hand in a permit if needed, check what types of fish are available and whether you have the right type of bait to catch them, then turn over a card in the “Cast” pile. If you are very lucky, you will get a picture of a fish which matches the water you are fishing in, and the bait you are using. If so, roll on the dicer, and cross reference this to the fish weight “ready reckoner” to see what size fish you have caught.

This is actually a good fun board game. It is well though out, and the chances are that you’ll be catching you fair share of 1oz Gudgeon, while your opponent flukes a 12lb Carp! The chances of getting a big fish are suitably small, and the later stages of the game are a chase to find the right bait. Although by this time you’ve probably collected a fair amount of different lines and hooks. And there’s nothing more annoying than losing your hook and float in a tree, or finding those precious maggots have gone mouldy.

The playing pieces are well designed, with the fishermen being chunky and having separate rods provided (although in some ways it’s a shame they are not OO scale). The fish cards are also nicely done, but the dicer is a bit disappointing. The ball-bearing simply drops onto a raised central area which slopes away to the numbered trays around the edge of the dicer. If you’ve used the rugby scrummer, then this uses the same principles. Occasionally, the ball-bearing gets stuck inside the dicer, and I’m not convinced it is as random as using dice would be. The Angling box states “a game of skill. no dice. no magnets” which is a bit of a fib, seeing as the dicer does exactly the same job as a twelve sided dice.

(thanks Roy)